- Recent research suggests that dietary habits could potentially influence the ‘microbiome’ located in the breast gland, potentially impacting the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Studies on monkeys suggest that a plant-based Mediterranean diet may lead to significant changes in the composition of the breast tissue bacteria, including a ten-fold increase in lactobacillus.
- These changes in bacteria, especially those that count lactobacillus, may impact breast cancer tumor growth. Additionally, plant-based diets may lead to higher bile acid content, which could also play a role in reducing breast cancer risk.
- The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, may present a possible dietary path to breast health through microbiome changes.
- Despite promising findings, these studies are still in their early stages, and further research is needed to fully understand the possible effect of diet on the breast microbiome and how it can be optimized to reduce breast cancer risk.
Scientific studies are underway to discover whether dietary patterns could sway the risk of developing breast cancer. This is based on the discovery that the human breast gland, like our gut, possesses a ‘microbiome’ potentially susceptible to dietary influence.
The Role of the Microbiome
Research suggests this microbiome might impact breast cancer treatment and possibly even function as a preventive measure, potentially paves the way towards a novel approach to breast cancer prevention. The key might, in fact, lie in dietary adjustments that shift the breast microbiome composition, according to Katherine Cook, assistant professor at The School of Medicine, Wake Forest University.
The Impact of Diet
In a recent study, female monkeys were assigned one of two diets, either a high-fat, Western-style diet or a plant-based Mediterranean diet sustained over 2.5 years, which parallels approximately eight human years. Interestingly, monkeys fed the plant-forward Mediterranean diet evidenced a distinctly different breast tissue bacteria profile than their Western diet counterparts. Notably, a ten-fold upswing in mammary gland lactobacillus was observed in the Mediterranean diet group.
Lactobacillus and Bile Acids
Research incentives sprout from evidence suggesting certain bacteria types, such as lactobacillus, may foil breast cancer tumor growth. Furthermore, Mediterranean diet-fed monkeys outperformed in their breast tissue metabolite profile by possessing an elevated bile acid content, another aspect speculated to diminish breast cancer risk.
Mediterranean Diet for Breast Health?
No stranger to the healthy-eating sphere, the Mediterranean diet lauds diverse plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Replacing salt with herb and spice use, keeping red meat minimal, this diet provides an additional vantage point in researching breast microbiome shifts.
The notion that diet could directly modify the microbiome within non-intestinal regions such as the breast gland is a surprising yet promising premise. However, it’s critical to note, this research is still nascent, and more understanding is needed to perceive to what extent diet manipulates the breast microbiome and how it can be utilized to protect women from breast cancer.
The Future of Research
Cook and her colleagues highlight the need for considerable more research. The potential that results seen in animal studies might not replicate in humans also commands attention.
Further Reading and References
For additional information on breast cancer, please visit The U.S. National Cancer Institute’s page here.